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Jellies and Dolphins and Sharks, Oh My!: Moorea

October 27, 2010

Mr. Jelly and I both wanted to honeymoon somewhere tropical, where we could really sit back, relax, and not worry about a thing. With its clear blue waters and iconic over-water bungalows, French Polynesia fit the bill perfectly. We left for our honeymoon two days after our wedding, which was great because it gave us a day to unwind, open gifts and pack before embarking on the trip. Our honeymoon itinerary was remarkably similar to Mrs. Lobster’s ( several days on the island of Moorea followed by a week on Bora Bora.

Prior to our honeymoon, I didn’t really know anything about French Polynesia – only that it’s a popular honeymoon destination with over-water bungalows. I soon learned that French Polynesia, which is located about 2,700 miles south of Hawaii, is comprised of several islands, including Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora. Tahiti is the largest island and the site of the main airport, and Moorea and Bora Bora are smaller islands that are a short ferry or plane ride from Tahiti.

Getting There

If you’re flying to Tahiti from the US, you first have to fly to Los Angeles first and go from there. So we flew from San Francisco to Los Angeles, then Los Angeles to Tahiti. All flights to Bora Bora or Moorea land on the main island of Tahiti first (at the Papeete Airport), and then travelers typically take either a boat or a puddle jumper plane to get to the other islands.  Depending on how long your layovers are, it can be a looong trip. We had a frustratingly long layover in Papeete (around 5 hours!) for a 10 minute flight to Moorea. I think it ended up being an 18 hour travel day for us!

Really excited on the plane.

At the Papeete Airport, waiting to board our flight to Moorea.

The view from the plane window. The long trip was worth it!


We spent the first few days of our honeymoon on Moorea, which seems to be a less popular tourist destination than Bora Bora (there are only 5-6 major resorts there) but offers a lot more activities. We stayed in an over-water bungalow at the Sofitel Resort, which was wonderful.

View of the bungalows at the Sofitel Moorea resort.

Our bungalow at the Sofitel Moorea Resort.

View from our bungalow. The water around the resort is quite shallow compared to our resort on Bora Bora.

When we got to our bungalow, we found a bottle of wine, fruit platter and massage certificates waiting for us. Our friends Cory and Lindsay had called the hotel and arranged this as a surprise wedding gift. It was so thoughtful of them!

The mini-desserts at our resort’s dinner buffet were to die for!

Since dinner at the resort was included in our honeymoon package, we got to enjoy the nightly Polynesian show.

Though we could have easily gone the three days without leaving the resort (they have a great spa, wonderful restaurants and various water-sport equipment for rent), we ventured out for a few activities:

Katamaran Tour & Snorkeling

We took a katamaran out to go snorkeling and happened to see a humpback whale on the way! The snorkeling was great, until Mr. Jelly yelled “SHARK!” and left me flailing in panic while he swam towards the (harmless) reef shark trying to videotape it. The only downside to the katamaran tour was that I got very sea sick, so I’d only recommend this if you can handle boat rides in choppy water.

Swimming with Dolphins

Our biggest splurge of the honeymoon was to go and swim with dolphins at the InterContinental Dolphin Center. This was a “bucket list” item for both of us, and though it cost a pretty penny, we both felt that it was totally worth it. We got to spend an hour in the water learning about the dolphins, watching them do tricks, and finally, getting to pet them.

Pure awesomeness.

Bicycle Ride

One really fun (and free) thing we did was rent bicycles from our hotel and take a ride around town. We biked to some nearby shops and checked out the souvenirs, then biked to the grocery store where we bought some snacks and cocktail-making supplies.

Jellyfish Honeymoon Tips:

  • Plan your trip carefully. We ended up having a 5 hour layover for a 10 minute flight. In retrospect, we should have taken the ferry and saved ourselves some travel time.
  • Food and drinks at Tahitian resorts are expensive. One cocktail alone can cost you upwards of $14. To save some money, do what we did: go to the local market and pick up some fruit juice and alcohol and make your own. We bought a $30 bottle of tequila and $6 worth of pineapple juice, and we were set for the rest of our trip.
  • Find out what free rentals your hotel offers. Our hotel rented out kayaks, snorkeling equipment, and bicycles free of charge. This can be a great way to save on activity costs.
  • If you’re planning on going to Bora Bora on your honeymoon, consider spending a few days in Moorea, too. Moorea has more activities than Bora Bora (such as swimming with dolphins, ATV tours, etc) and it’s easier to get around Moorea because it’s just one island, whereas Bora Bora’s resorts are spread out among smaller islands (motus), making it necessary to take boats everywhere.

Next up, Bora Bora!

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